If You’re Pro-Life In Illinois, Leaving Isn’t An Option

Last week, Turning Point USA founder and executive director Charlie Kirk penned a column for the Daily Herald titled “A fond farewell to state I love that doesn’t seem to love me.” In his article, he laments the financial and moral crises plaguing Illinois and announces a predictable exit to Florida, which lacks an income tax for state residents and boasts an excess of Republican money – attractive qualities for Kirk as an up-and-coming conservative mogul.

Of course, he’s not the first quasi-famous Illinois resident to announce such an exit, nor will he be the last – but his editorial makes some critical points, particularly in reference to Illinois’ millennial demographic that, for someone like me – a millennial, a conservative, and a pro-life activist – demand a pause. Why, given the odds and the reasons to leave, would I choose to stay?

In his column, Kirk points out that Illinois “is in the top five states from which wealthy millennials are departing,” per data from the IRS itself, defining “wealthy millennials” as six-figure earners under the age of 35. Let’s say, for the sake of argument, that when unestablished young adults start making real money, they realize they’d rather put down roots anywhere but here. And if a bad pension algorithm in decades past meant big problems for our state at present, imagine what this exodus might mean for the future. Hint: it’s likely bleak.

It’s true Illinois lacks a great deal – prosperity, for starters. J.B. Pritzker’s latest onslaught of tax increases will surely be felt for miles, and the legalization of marijuana combined with the state’s long-standing immigrant sanctuary policies will soon mean a list of troubles as long as my left arm. These policies are disastrous and the outcomes, predictable: poverty, crime, and widespread suffering must follow (although, many would argue poverty, crime, and suffering made a home here long ago). And that’s all without mentioning the General Assembly’s very-public efforts to turn our state into the abortion capital of the nation, going to great lengths to attract abortion providers and pave the way for abortion-seeking travelers from across the U.S.

The abortion issue in Illinois is one worth honing in on. Yesterday, The New Yorker printed an article titled “How Illinois Became An Abortion-Rights Haven.” We’ve been forced to watch these past six months as a frantic national abortion industry has projected the state of Illinois from “abortion-friendly” to its new role as nationwide oasis. It’s rumored that Hope Clinic – which made headlines for this billboard on I-55 – has a parking lot full of cars from states across the country every day. Hotels throughout Chicago provide discounted rooms to women who have an appointment for an abortion procedure nearby. The goal of the Reproductive Healthcare Act – which forces private insurance to cover abortions and removes the need for a doctor to be present, amongst other things – is clearly to achieve more abortions. And if the Repeal of Parental Notification passes in the fall, it’s a matter of time before the decreased rate of abortions performed on minors sees a drastic uptick. Illinois has been hand-picked to single-handedly carry the country’s abortion rate – regardless of the outcomes.

Why does this matter? Because the outcomes will be devastating. Those of us who work in pro-life – at a pregnancy resource center, or in post-abortive counseling, or at an education organization like IRL – know that more abortions means more broken women. It means more Illinois women who will travel through life as merely a shell of themselves. In 2006, a New Zealand study concluded that there is a strong correlation between induced abortion and subsequent mental health issues – such as depression, anxiety, addiction, or suicidal thoughts – when compared with women who had never been pregnant or had carried pregnancies to term. A Canadian study found that women three months post-abortive were five times as likely to experience psychiatric hospitalization, and another study suggests that within one year of their abortions, post-abortive women experience a suicide rate six times higher than women who’d never had an abortion. And these studies are supported by countless more performed across the world that conclude, time and again: abortion is bad for women.

The stats are overwhelming. And what’s more, the CDC reports that black and Hispanic women are significantly more likely to have an abortion in their lifetime. That means these disturbing mental health stats disproportionately affect minority communities – the same communities disproportionately affected by poverty and crime in Illinois, and the same communities that will feel the greatest hurt when bad policies like legalized marijuana set in.

Impoverished Chicago neighborhoods are already experiencing a crisis of the family. Homes on the south and west sides are ravaged by drug abuse and gang violence, and are significantly lacking in father figures. The State of Illinois reports that more than half of incarcerated men are black. Safe to say, fathers have been adequately removed from the picture – and now, by working overtime to increase the rate of abortion in our state, we’re doing irreversible damage to women’s mental health and taking black mothers out right along with them.

These changes to Illinois abortion policy will be lethal. So, when Republicans tout an exodus, I have to ask: why? Why are we leaving? Because the way I see it, we have a moral duty to stay.

Yesterday, I visited a pregnancy resource center that serves a large Hispanic community in Illinois, and is mere blocks from a Planned Parenthood. My welcome was warm and inviting. The waiting room was cozy, bright, and adorned with pamphlets that described adoption as “a profoundly loving and selfless choice.” The clinic’s “boutique” – where new moms are able to shop using credits they accrue through clinic programs – was overflowing with clothes, toys, and diapers. And the clinic’s director – herself, post-abortive – shared a thought with me: in Illinois, our politics are bad – but this means women need us even more.

Her point is gravely critical. Pro-life does not end with politics. I think of Mother Teresa – who scolded the Americans who showed up on her doorstep in Calcutta, looking for someone to serve. “Go home,” she told them. “It is easy to love the people far away. It is not always easy to love those close to us.” As Illinois residents, we find ourselves in one of the most corrupt states in the nation. Our legislators are firmly under the thumb of an abortion PAC that’s wreaked havoc for more than 30 years. We can be frustrated. We can be angry. But we cannot quit, and we cannot leave. We cannot let politics – we cannot let taxes – distract us from the mission, which is to serve women and protect the unborn. How could we leave? We have to stay and fight.

Illinois Democrats Are Preparing To Force Another Major Abortion Bill

Last week, Capitol News Illinois confirmed that democrats in the General Assembly intend to pursue the repeal of Parental Notification during the veto session in the fall.

Rep. Chris Welch (D-Hillside), who’s the primary sponsor of HB 2467 (the Parental Notice Abortion Repeal), confirmed that he’s going to push the bill during the veto session (the last week of October and the second week of November) and, if it fails, he’s “going to go back at it again in January.”

Per CNI:

“Men can make health care decisions on their own without having to give notice to a parent. Why can’t a woman,” Welch said. “At the end of the day, I don’t want my wife and my daughter to be equal only in the confines of our home — I want them to be equal in the confines of the law. That’s what this fight is all about.”

So, first and foremost, let’s get something straight: men under the age of 18 are decidedly *not* allowed to receive invasive surgical procedures without the consent of their parents. And actually, since the General Assembly passed HB 0345, men under the age of 21 are not even allowed to buy cigarettes (Rep. Welch sponsored that bill too, by the way).

There is absolutely *no* consistency of thought here. And that’s without mentioning the risks that young girls face without this law serving as a checkpoint in the industry.

Take note of Welch’s word choice in his above quote. “Men can make health care decisions on their own without having to give notice to a parent. Why can’t a woman?” Words mean something. We’re not talking about women. We’re talking about *girls* – underage girls, who are at far greater risk of being sexually exploited than almost any other demographic block. In 2017, the youngest girl to receive an abortion that was paid for with taxpayer dollars was a 12-year-old. Any responsible adult can look at this situation and see that something isn’t right.

This isn’t a red herring. Chicago is a national hub for human trafficking. Repealing this law would actually protect traffickers by providing them the opportunity to conceal the consequences of trafficking and continue the cycle of abuse.

One might wonder why the public isn’t outraged at the suggestion of repealing such a common sense law. Funny thing: it is.

Back in March, 12,625 people filed formal witness slips in opposition to the repeal of parental notification (compared to 490 in support of the repeal). You can view those here.

Later in the month, when the bill was scheduled to be heard in committee a second time, 6,980 people filed formal witness slips in opposition to the repeal of parental notification (compared to 190 filed in support of the repeal). You can view those here.

Also in March, more than 4,000 people showed up at a rally held by a group of pro-life organizations to protest HB 2467 at the Illinois State Capitol. The crowds brought the building to max capacity and security had to close the doors. 

Just as the case with the Reproductive Healthcare Act, the public has spoken loudly and clearly on this issue. The question isn’t whether the people of Illinois support this bill – it’s whether or not Illinois democrats care.

 

25, Catholic, & Also A Woman

Hugh Hefner died last week.

As a Catholic, it’s tough to know the right way to respond to his death. A lot of Catholic figures suggested we should pray that he repented and recognized Christ before he died. This is probably the right idea.

After drinking a pot of coffee around 7PM last night for no good reason in particular, I found myself still awake and staring wide-eyed at my computer at 3AM—which is when I came across a 2015 Cosmopolitan article from an interview with Holly Madison, one of Hefner’s (more recent) Playboy girlfriends.

Madison described how depressed she became after Hefner forcibly cut her off from the outside world, required she engage in sex with him and other women in the house, and inflicted emotional abuse that manipulated her into consenting to all of the above. Sadly, one could’ve guessed that this was what’s going on behind the doors of Playboy mansion. It’s a phenomenon that’s contributed to the twisted way we look at sex—and also at women in general.

I often think of something Jason Evert says about the beauty of the female gender:

“The woman is the most beautiful thing on Earth. I’m not pandering to you—this is obvious. What do guys get addicted to looking at on the internet? Like, flamingos or something? Waterfalls? It’s the beauty of the woman! If creation was a symphony, she is the crescendo, and this is how it’s presented in the book of Genesis—God creates the stars and the moons and the bugs and the birds and the mammals and then man, and then woman. And when Adam sees her, he is beside himself. “Alas! This one is flesh of my flesh and bone of my bone.” He is captivated by her. He is in awe.”

What could possibly be more special than this? Not to say men aren’t special—like, you guys are fine—but this is super special. It’s so inherently good to be a woman. I look so warmly on all that comes with it—the upsides and the downsides, monthly gifts notwithstanding. Truly, womanhood is such a blessing. It’s so, so good to be woman.

John Paul II’s Theology of the Body further emphasizes this point. Women have an incredible capacity for vulnerability, adversity, pain—and also for love. Our bodies were perfectly made for bearing and rearing children, even down to the tiniest details, like the bend of our arms and the curve of our hips. We’re an incredibly strong, resilient gender from the moment we’re conceived in the womb. Women are amazing.

Our Mother was the ultimate woman. Her example set the standard for femininity in a graceful, beautiful way. Blogger Matt Foley expressed this remarkably:

“We don’t hear much from Our Lady in the Scriptures, but we do hear in Luke’s Gospel that she “kept all of these things in her heart.” Mary had a lot to deal with. The Lord of the Universe came to her and promised her the life she was born to live, and then she knew He would have to take it away. And she had to just wait for that. There was so much back and forth, up and down, waiting and going. And she knew deep in her heart, that on this side of Heaven, for three long and terrible days, it would all end in heartbreak. But every sorrow, every joy, every love, everything, she kept in the depths of her heart and shared it with her first and deepest Love. It was there she found the meaning of her womanhood. It was there she was affirmed in the fullness of her identity as a woman. So when God came and asked her, “Mary, my daughter, I love you. Are you ready?” Her answer was yes. She already knew her worth and her purpose was rooted in Goodness. She knew she was loved and lovable. Her answer was openness to receive the gift of God. And because of that, the world was never the same.”

But if women are profoundly capable of all of these things—vulnerability, resilience, receptivity to love, etc. etc.—we’re all the more profoundly capable in our ability to draw greatness out of man. This is what we were created for—to compliment and accentuate the parts of man that perfectly reflect his creation in the image and likeness of God.

Peter Kreeft said it best:

”The heart is like a woman, and the head is like a man, and although man is the head of woman, woman is the heart of man and she turns man’s head because she turns his heart.”

My sister delves deeper into this point in a beautiful critique of the Women’s March (which you can read here):

“Women, we are the heart! We are the heart of this world, with the ability to turn its head. Women, we were not created to be trampled on or used. We are not secondary or lesser to our male counterparts. We were created with feminine qualities including gentleness, warmth, sensitivity, compassion, and receptivity. Yes, we’re intelligent, capable, and driven. We are strong and brave (shout out to Leah Darrow). We are not a slave to our fellow man, but rather a fundamental, necessary, and worthy companion. The gifts and talents that we have to offer are good, holy and beautiful. We are nurturing, loving, protective, loyal, self-giving, and communicative by nature. These qualities are of great service to our world. They are valuable in the workplace, just as they are essential to the family. It is by harnessing these very qualities that we will be be most impactful in the world, whether as business women, entrepreneurs, politicians, journalists, doctors and/or nurses, but of utmost importance as mothers.”

We were not created to be trampled on or used. We are not secondary or lesser. We are not a slave to our fellow man. In this thought, we’re brought back to “fellow man”, Hugh Hefner.
His contributions to the twisted way the world now sees women are neither here nor there, in my opinion. It would’ve happened one way or the other, as it has countless times over in other civilizations and will continue to until the end of time. One of the devil’s greatest weapons is the perversion of the beauty of womanhood and the relationship between the sexes, because the toxicity of its outcome seeps into every other area of life. In modern times, we see this everywhere.

The perversion of woman—who she is, what she does, how she’s meant to relate to man—has brought forth social repercussions we could list for days. And it hardly leans in one direction. The woman who demonizes the male gender and aims to squeeze women into the role that’s meant for men does as much damage to herself as the one who exploits her sexuality in an attempt to harness power and control. I hurt for these women. I hurt for the Holly Madisons of the world, who suffer from a fundamental misunderstanding of who they are and what they’re capable of.
But within this context, it must be said: the Hugh Hefners suffer too.

Men need good women, just as women need good men. You can’t have one without the other. So as Holly Madison likely suffers from her disconnection with her purpose, Hugh Hefner likely suffered also. A man who uses and abuses women the way he did strikingly misses out on his own potential for greatness. This is a travesty too.

To be 25, Catholic, and a woman is a profound gift, but it’s also an incredible challenge. Women bear a responsibility to the men in their lives to hold a certain standard, but it’s a responsibility that does not come without its share of risk. 20-something single, Catholic women today enter into a remarkable vulnerability in choosing to maintain that standard. In a world where most women consent to their own mistreatment and the perversion of their beauty, man’s obligation to the standard isn’t an obligation at all—it’s a choice. As a result, the women who expect more often find themselves at the receiving end of profound rejection. It’s that pain and adversity I mentioned before—it’s real and it’s common.

But there’s good news: it’s worth the graces of calling men to their higher purpose. The cross of rejection is worthy of the great fruits that stem from fulfilling our call as females to draw the greatness out of men. But just as we have the call, we also have the tools. Our remarkable resilience gives us the ability to endure it.